It was the usual graduation ceremony with smiling and bubbly graduates and teary-eyed parents. Except that each graduate who marched to the stage carried a family’s hope for a better life.
And that better life would start on the weekend after the ceremony when each graduate will travel to a permanent job in the factory or dealerships of Isuzu Philippines, Corp.
From the experiences of the 17 batches of graduates from the Isuzu-TESDA Auto Mechanic Training Center, what is waiting for them is not only a job but also a career that will fund the education of siblings and cousins, pay for better housing, and finance a parent’s small business venture.
That job could help them reach the goal – “To help my family” – which the graduates had declared in the brochure of the 16th Graduation Ceremony of the training center.
Parents and relatives who we interviewed echoed similar hopes. The graduate will now help a sibling, nephew, or niece, to get an education. There was no talk about the graduate going back to his hometown.
Pride in the achievement of a son or daughter of first qualifying – and then completing – the Isuzu scholarship for the two-year education glowed from the faces of the relatives all seated to watch two ceremonies on August 28 at the Isuzu-TESDA school in Tacloban, Leyte.
In the morning, they sat quietly through the welcome ceremonies for the next batch of scholars, and the recognition ceremonies which honored the outstanding achievers – their sons and daughters.
And in the afternoon, they beamed and got misty-eyed as the graduation ceremony unfolded like any other – first, the solemn entry of colors; then, the procession of graduates accompanied by a parent, and then, the final ceremony where each was given a National Certification which puts them at the highest rung of technical training.
The class valedictorian, Perfecto C. Pacala III, said what each heart in the room was saying then: “I am very fortunate that I was a recipient of this scholarship program. To God be the glory!”
His mother, Leonilla, who spoke at the ceremony, radiated – and declared – pride and gratefulness. “A proud and happy mother is speaking to you now. To the people behind this priceless achievement of my son, thank you!
There was much to be grateful and proud for. Ildephonso Abeo, 65, and his wife, Solita, 63, had traveled for three hours from a town in Eastern Samar to witness the ceremony of one of their nine children. Ildephonso, a farmer, said his son Rico had always been number one in school.
Roberto and Gemma Cabus, from Julita, Leyte, had traveled for about two hours to be there. They said there was no way they could have paid for that kind of education for their daughter, the third of four children.
Roger and Marilu Ebayan from the same town, proudly said that their son, Dave Marc, had topped the 136 students who took the entrance exam for the training center in their area. Only 18 were accepted from that batch.
The 18 graduates that composed Batch 18 came from a group of 684 applicants. Thirty-six students had qualified and started the program but only 18 completed the course.
The school has graduated 248 students since it started in 2008, all of them working in permanent and good paying jobs in the automotive industry.
The Isuzu-TESDA school is funded by Isuzu Motors Limited (IML) and it was started by Mr. Ida, as chairman. With the recent retirement of Mr. Ida, IML had sent about 30 Japanese executives to witness the ceremonies. All of them were dressed in barong Tagalog, which symbolizes respect for a special event.
Isuzu provides financial support, specialized machinery/tools for the center, technical expertise, training of the center trainers and the trainees.
The training center was constructed with all the necessary equipment and tools to implement training programs up to National Certificate (NC) levels III and IV. Dormitories were constructed to house the trainees while they are completing their courses.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the agency that accredits all vocational schools and training centers in the Philippines, acts as the location and manager of the training center.
The Isuzu- TESDA Auto Mechanic Training Center is built in TESDA Region 8 facility in Tacloban City. The project is built on these existing facilities and TESDA’s current curricula on auto mechanic.
The third partner of the project is World Vision Development Foundation which oversees the implementation of the project. Its primary task is to identify youth from poor rural communities who have the potential to become mechanics.
By Pinky Concha Colmenares